Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Crowd At The Big Dome

It’s quite ironic that, given my new job, I was never into sports a lot. Except for the Most Valuable Player medal I won back in grade school for volleyball, I was never that athletic. And the only sports I do watch are figure skating and the occasional male diving coverage.

So it was with detached disinterest that I approached my assignment to attend the viewing of the Pacquiao-Cotto match at the Araneta Coliseum. We were there to make sure everything went well.

At first my boss was worried that the venue won’t be full. Glancing at the rapidly filling-up stadium, I told her, “It’s four-fifths full already! Don’t worry.”

Four 30 foot-wide screens flashed the live-via-satellite footage from Las Vegas. The crowd was already reacting loudly to the pre-event fights. And when the GMA-7 plugs came on, a loud boo rose from them. (They didn’t react negatively with the trailer of Manny’s movie Wapakman, but I guess they’ll never boo anything that has their hero in it, right?)

When Manny was shown with Jinky on his right and Willie Revillame on his left, people started hooting. When Willie put his hand around Manny’s hand, people jeered.

The main event: a thunderous roar from the crowd as Many and Cotto start the fight. I wanted to stay outside, by the south side entrance, because I thought I couldn’t stand the excitement magnified more than a thousand times over with this massive crowd. Good thing my boss insisted we watch at the courtside (where the PBA Commissioners are seated).

Great idea.

When Cotto stumbled the first time, the crowd went wild. As in, wild. They stood up, fists jabbing the air, yelling at the massive screens, “Manny! Manny! Manny!” as if the Pambansang Kamao would hear the collective chant an ocean away. And when Manny had Cotto kneeling down again, the crowd was ecstatic, augmenting their cheering with stomping. Every time a 30-foot close-up of Cotto’s swollen face flashed onscreen, the crowd laughed and cheered.

And yet Cotto proved to be a wilier and tougher opponent. His fancy footwork actually helped keep him away from most of Manny’s blistering blitzkrieg punches. And by the eighth round the crowd had a feeling that a knock-out by Manny may be harder to come by.

So when the referee halted the fight on the twelfth and final round, the cheer was massive but not as charged as when Cotto went down twice. Perhaps the crowd sensed victory early on. Perhaps people were hoping Manny could connect that one deadly punch to bring Cotto down, and were disappointed that a knock out didn’t materialize.


When the lights went on, the coliseum folks gave us the actual attendance figures: 18,303 people. That was 18,303 people roaring, cheering, clapping and stomping; there were more people there than in MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was truly a massive SRO crowd that I think only a Manny Pacquiao the boxer can attract. (As for Manny the singer and Manny the politician, his appeal is much more limited.)

Post-fight, Mario Lopez interviewed Manny in the ring. While watching it, I received an SMS from my brother: “The post-fight interview with Manny. Where the real butchering happens. LOL.”

No comments: